According to a new study published in Cancer, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society (ACS), rates of cervical cancer in the U.S. may be higher than thought, and cervical cancer may occur most often after age 65, when women are advised to stop getting screened. What's more, cervical cancer rates may be higher in black women.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends regular cervical cancer screenings, with Pap or HPV tests, for all women ages 21 to 65.

The ACS’s guidelines state that women ages 21 to 29 should have a Pap test every three years, and that they should not be tested for HPV unless it is needed after an abnormal Pap test result. In addition, the ACS recommends that women ages 30 to 65 should have both a Pap test and an HPV test every five years. This is the preferred approach, but it is also OK to have a Pap test alone every three years.

The ACS advises women over age 65 who have had regular screenings with normal results to not be screened for cervical cancer. Women who have been diagnosed with cervical pre-cancer should continue to be screened.

Previous estimates of cervical cancer rates in the U.S. have included women who have had the uterine cervix removed through a hysterectomy. This surgery eliminates a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer.

Lead study author Anne Rositch, assistant professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, told Healthline,  "We found that because older women and African American women had the highest prevalence of hysterectomy, the corrected rate estimates resulted in the largest increase for these groups of women compared to the uncorrected rates. Incidence rates of cervical cancer increased with age up to age 65 to 69 years, unlike the uncorrected rates, which tapered off after age 45 year."

Read more from Healthline.

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